Photos by Kari Arbova ’22 and Katie Robin Photography

When Zachary McAdams ’20 moved to Cairo, Missouri, in high school, he didn’t know who would be waiting on the other side. The small midwestern town was also the childhood home of Allison Keen ’21. They got to know each other through shared classes and school clubs, and soon became an item.

“After a prom date, a few dinners at the local Mexican restaurant and some cheesy movies, we finally got together,” McAdams says. “It’s been six exciting years since then!”

McAdams chose CC for his undergraduate studies and set out to earn a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with a minor in computer information systems. A member of the Honors College, he served as president of the Student Government Association and was crowned Homecoming royalty his senior year.

Zach McAdams ’20 and Allison Keen ’21 sit with their dog in front of Missouri Hall.
Zach McAdams ’20 and Allison Keen ’21 married Nov. 27, 2021, and will return to Columbia College for years to come to see their engraved brick near Alumni Fountain.

“I spent the majority of my time in the Science department,” he says. “I did a lot of one-on-one work with faculty that set me up for what I’m doing now.”

Keen joined McAdams in Columbia a year later and jumped in to campus life as well. She was a member of the Cougar softball team during her four years on campus as she worked toward a bachelor’s degree in nursing with a minor in psychology.

Throughout their years at CC, they found ways to serve together. In addition to student government leaders, both were student ambassadors in the Admissions office, Keen as a member of the events team and McAdams as chair of the tour guides. They look back on nights spent with friends in Atkins-Holman Student Commons — events like Scooter’s Holiday Hangout — with fondness.

Naturally, when it came to the planning their next step, Missouri Hall served as the perfect backdrop for McAdams to propose in October 2020. Keen’s softball teammate Kari Arbova captured the moments on camera. In addition to an engagement ring, McAdams presented his future bride with a brick inscribed with the words “Allison Elizabeth, will you marry me?” A testament to their time together at Columbia College, the brick was later installed on the walkway around the Quad’s Alumni Fountain.

The couple married on Nov. 27, 2021, in Jefferson City. “We connected with many of our best friends at Columbia College and wanted them to be a part of our special day,” McAdams says. “Allison’s bridesmaids included Konnor Arrowood ’21, Carli Buschjost ’21 and Maddie Ramsey ’22. My groomsmen were Daymond Dollens ’19, Brandon Root ’19, Mike Nichols ’20 and Zach Nichols ’20.”

Wedding guests, including four seasons of Cougar softball players, were not surprised by the dinner selection — catering by Lily’s Cantina. Keen explains that they had Mexican food for their first date, “and then about 95% of the dates after that,” McAdams adds.

The newlyweds remain in Columbia. Keen is a registered nurse on the Labor and Delivery unit at Women’s and Children’s Hospital, while McAdams continues his second year as a research student at the University of Missouri. He is studying the gut microbiome in a Molecular Pathogenesis and Therapeutics Ph.D. program.

McAdams continues to work with faculty and staff as a member of the college’s Strategic Planning Committee that is focused on long-range goals. “And another thing that will keep us connected is our brick,” he says. “We love to come back and see it.”